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Celebrating Women's Contributions in the Workplace: A Reflection on Women's History Month

A digital image of a diverse group of women

As we celebrate Women's History Month, it's essential to reflect on women’s countless contributions to human history, significant strides made in the workplace, acknowledge current disparities, and envision a brighter future for gender equality. From historical milestones to contemporary challenges, women have continuously shaped and transformed the professional landscape.

Dates to Know

March 1 - March 31: National Women’s History Month (How March Became Women's History Month)

March 12: Equal Pay Day

Historical Contributions

Throughout history, women have made significant and often overlooked contributions to various fields, despite facing immense societal barriers and discrimination. From pioneering scientists to trailblazing activists, women have left an indelible mark on the fabric of history.

In the realm of Science, Marie Curie stands as a towering figure. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and remains the only person to have received Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields: physics and chemistry. Her groundbreaking research on radioactivity laid the foundation for advancements in medical treatment and nuclear physics, shaping the course of scientific inquiry for generations to come.

Literature: The works of Jane Austen continue to captivate readers worldwide. Austen's novels, including "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility," offer incisive social commentary and timeless insights into human nature. Despite writing during an era when women's voices were often marginalized, Austen's literary legacy endures as a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring relevance of women's perspectives.

Civil Rights: Rosa Parks became a symbol of resistance and courage when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Her act of defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and galvanized the modern civil rights movement, inspiring countless individuals to stand up against injustice and oppression.

Entrepreneurship: Madam C.J. Walker blazed a trail as the first female self-made millionaire in America. Born to formerly enslaved parents, Walker overcame poverty and adversity to build a cosmetics empire centered around hair care products for Black women. Her entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropic endeavors paved the way for future generations of women of color to pursue their dreams and achieve financial independence.

Technology: Ada Lovelace defied societal norms of her time by pursuing a passion for mathematics and science, fields typically reserved for men in the 1800s. Despite facing skepticism and gender bias, she collaborated with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine, laying the groundwork for computer programming and earning her the title of the world's first computer programmer.

Politics: Eleanor Roosevelt faced personal struggles and societal expectations as the First Lady of the United States, but she used her position to advocate for marginalized communities and human rights. Despite criticism and opposition, she played a crucial role in shaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, leaving a lasting legacy as a champion of social justice and equality.

Humanitarianism: Mother Teresa overcame personal doubt and hardship to devote her life to serving the poorest of the poor in India. Despite facing criticism and skepticism, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, providing care and compassion to the sick, orphaned, and dying, and inspiring millions around the world to embrace the values of selflessness and compassion. Her humanitarian work earned her the Nobel Peace Prize and solidified her legacy as a symbol of unconditional love and service to humanity.

Conservation: Jane Goodall overcame gender barriers in the field of primatology to conduct groundbreaking research on chimpanzees in Tanzania. Her pioneering work revolutionized our understanding of primate behavior and conservation, inspiring generations to protect endangered species and their habitats through scientific research and advocacy

These are just a few select profiles of the impactful women whose contributions have shaped history and paved the way for progress. From Susan B. Anthony's tireless advocacy for women's suffrage to Malala Yousafzai's fearless advocacy for girls' education, women have continually challenged the status quo and championed causes for the good of all. 

As we celebrate Women's History Month, let us honor the legacy of these remarkable women and recommit ourselves to advancing gender equality in all aspects of society. By acknowledging and amplifying women's voices, we can create a more inclusive and equitable world for future generations to thrive.

Current Disparities

Despite progress, gender disparities persist in the workplace. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2020, it will take approximately 99.5 years to achieve gender equality globally based on current trends. Additionally, women continue to face challenges such as the gender pay gap, lack of representation in leadership positions, and workplace discrimination.

The COVID-19 pandemic also exacerbated existing inequalities, with women disproportionately affected by job losses and increased caregiving responsibilities. A report by McKinsey & Company revealed that women's jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to crises than men's jobs, highlighting the inequity and urgency of addressing these disparities.

We must remember to keep intersectionality in mind when exploring the state of women in the workplace; women from diverse backgrounds, including women of color, LGBTQ+ women, women with disabilities, and women from marginalized communities face additional challenges and discrimination.

An infographic showing the percentage of women promoted to manager by ethnicity, compared to men promoted to manager

Positive Outlook

Despite these challenges, there is cause for optimism.  Companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and success. Research by McKinsey & Company found that companies with gender-diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability.

Initiatives aimed at empowering women in the workplace are gaining momentum. From mentorship programs to leadership development initiatives, organizations are taking proactive steps to support women's career advancement.

The rise of remote work presents new opportunities for women to balance work and family responsibilities. Flexible work arrangements can enable women to participate more fully in the workforce while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Three images of women leading discussions at a conference
Women Leading Discussions at the 2022 LevelUp Conference in Columbus, OH

Ways to honor Women’s History Month

Research great women in human history, including the challenges they overcame and the lasting impact of their work. GoodGoodGood has compiled a great list of podcasts, books, Ted Talks, news stories and more highlighting women’s voices. 

Stay up to date on the state of gender equality in the workplace and beyond.

Champion initiatives to support and uplift women within your sphere of influence.

Share stories of women's accomplishments through social media, blogs, or newsletters. This could include profiles of historical figures, contemporary leaders, or unsung heroes whose contributions deserve recognition. 

Acknowledge the success and achievements of the women in your life - purposeful support and acknowledgement can be incredibly impactful and encouraging for women who are fighting against gender barriers to achieve their goals.

Show support for women entrepreneurs by shopping at women-owned businesses or promoting their products and services. This helps empower women economically and fosters a more inclusive business community. Check out Buy Women Owned or search for local woman owned businesses in your area.

Volunteer with organizations that support women's causes, such as domestic violence shelters, women's health clinics, or literacy programs for girls. Giving back to the community is a meaningful way to honor the contributions of women and support gender equality.

Advocate for policies and initiatives that promote gender equality and women's rights. This could include supporting women candidates for political office, lobbying for equal pay legislation, or raising awareness about issues such as reproductive rights and gender-based violence.

Looking Forward

As we commemorate Women's History Month, let us celebrate the achievements of women in the workplace and reaffirm our commitment to gender equality. By addressing systemic barriers, promoting inclusive practices, and championing diversity, we can create a future where every woman has the opportunity to thrive professionally.

Together, let us work towards a world where women's contributions are valued and recognized, not just during Women's History Month, but every day of the year.

Woman dressed and posing like Rosie the Riveter

At Level, we recognize the importance of fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces where every individual feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. As a women-owned organization, we are committed to partnering with businesses to meet the growing needs of today's dynamic workforce. Through our consulting services, we provide tailored strategies and solutions to help organizations cultivate inclusive cultures, mitigate biases, and implement best practices for attracting, retaining, and advancing diverse talent. Additionally, our staffing services offer access to a diverse pool of qualified candidates, ensuring that businesses have the opportunity to build teams that reflect the rich tapestry of our society. By leveraging our expertise and resources, we can support businesses in creating environments where all employees, regardless of gender or background, can thrive and succeed. Let us be your partner in fostering a more inclusive future for women and all underrepresented groups in the workplace.

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